A systematic review of hepatitis B screening economic evaluations in low- and middle-income countries
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Background: Chronic hepatitis B infection is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide; low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are disproportionately affected. Economic evaluations are a useful decision tool to assess costs versus benefits of hepatitis B virus (HBV) screening. No published study reviewing economic evaluations of HBV screening in LMICs has been undertaken to date. Methods: The following databases were searched from inception to 21 April 2017: MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL Plus, the Cochrane Library, Global Health and the Cost-effectiveness Analysis Registry. English-language studies were included if they assessed the costs against the benefits of HBV screening in LMICs. PROSPERO registration: CRD42015024391, 20 July 2015. Results: Nine studies fulfilled the eligibility criteria. One study from Thailand indicated that adding hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) to HBV vaccination for newborns following screening of pregnant women might be cost-effective for some LMICs, though inadequate total funding and health infrastructure were likely to limit feasibility. A similar study from China indicated a benefit to cost ratio of 2.7 from selective HBIG administration to newborns, if benefits were considered from a societal perspective. Of the two studies assessing screening amongst the general adult population, a single cost-benefit analysis from China found a benefit to cost ratio (BCR) of 1.73 with vaccination guided by HBV screening of adults aged 21–39, compared to 1.42 with vaccination with no screening, both from a societal perspective. Community-based screening of adults in The Gambia with linkage to treatment yielded an incremental cost per disability-adjusted life year averted of $566 (in 2017 USD), less than two-times gross domestic product per capita for that country. Conclusions: Screening with ‘catch-up’ vaccination for younger adults yielded benefits above costs, and screening linked with treatment has shown cost-effectiveness that may be affordable for some LMICs. However, interpretation needs to account for total cost implications and further research in LMICs is warranted as there were only nine included studies and evidence from high-income countries is not always directly applicable.
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